KATHMANDU, Feb 28: Leaders from the agitating political parties have raised a new demand with the government, asking the prime minister to include a new provision in the constitution with regard to making changes in the delineation of provinces.
They have demanded that a provision such as in Article 3 of the Indian constitution should be included in Nepal’s constitution.
“We at the meeting today [Monday] with the prime minister have demanded that a provision just like Article 3 of the Indian constitution should be included by amending Article 274 (4) of our constitution,” Rajendra Shrestha, co-chair of the Federal Socialist Forum Nepal, told Republica. “This will help us change provincial boundaries, and merge or split any province without the consent of the respective provincial assembly.”
Article 3 of the Indian constitution states that “Parliament may by law- (a) form a new State by separation of territory from any State or by uniting two or more States or parts of States or by uniting any territory to a part of any State; (b) increase the area of any State; (c) diminish the area of any State; (d) alter the boundaries of any State; (e) alter the name of any State: “[Provided that no Bill for the purpose shall be introduced in either House of Parliament except on the recommendation of the President and unless, where the proposal contained in the Bill affects the area, boundaries or name of any of the States 1***, the Bill has been referred by the President to the Legislature of that State for expressing its views thereon within such period as may be specified in the reference or within such further period as the President may allow and the period so specified or allowed has expired.]”
The agitating leaders wanted to make changes in clause 4 of Article 274 of the constitution that states that “If a Bill introduced pursuant to clause (2) is related with the alteration in the borders of any State or matters set forth in Schedule-6, the Speaker or the Chairperson of the concerned House must send that Bill to the State Assembly for its consent, within thirty days after its introduction in the Federal Parliament.”
According to Shrestha, they floated the idea of copying the said provision of the Indian constitution after the prime minister told them it may not be possible to get the constitution amendment provision that proposes changes in the provincial boundary duly endorsed. A constitution amendment bill that is under discussion in parliament has proposed splitting some districts from Province-5 to include into Province-4. Some of the political parties including the main opposition CPN-UML have strongly opposed this.
“The prime minister was for endorsing only those provisions of the constitution amendment bill in which a two-thirds majority can be garnered in parliament, and he said it was unlikely to get sufficient support to endorse the provision on making changes in provincial boundaries,” said Shrestha.
According to him, they suggested to the prime minister to include the new provision through registration of an additional amendment bill. “The additional amendment bill may amend Articles 56 and 306 that put the provinces under central authority and the local levels under the provinces,” he explained. He said it became necessary as the existing provisions made the provinces and local bodies more autonomous.